Fairness in a
Fragile World
Professor Wayne Hayes
V. 1.0, Build #10 | 11/20/2013
Our goal is to decode and supplement
the memorandum.
“Fairness in a Fragile World:
A Memo on Sustainable Development”
By
Wolfgang Sachs
Aka, the Johannesburg Memorandum
Recommended is the full version.
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Introduction
Pages 31-32
Sachs lets us know
his intention and
what we must remember
and why.
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Introducing our author
Wolfgang Sachs is the
Director of the
Wuppertal Institute
for Climate and Energy.
See his biography.
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The Earth Summit was held
in Rio in 1992.
• The official name of the 1992 Earth Summit was
the U.N. Conference on Environment and
Development.
• The Earth Summit was held in Rio and was a
response to the Brundtland Commission Report
in 1987.
• The 2002 summit, held in Johannesburg, was
titled The World Summit of Sustainable
Development (WSSD).
• Rio+20 was held in Rio in June, 2012.
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Sachs connects us to the U.N. process.
This classic provides a preamble to Rio+10, held
in June, 2002. The dilemma has deepened, the
formal UN process has again stalled, but civil
society organizations and a global citizens
movement has been mobilized.
In this context, we should remember
Sachs, as he intended. Note the continuity with
the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties.
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So what? Crack the code.
• Sachs claims that the subtle linguistic shift
translates into a concern for the (export-led)
economic growth of the global South.
• What is presumed is that economic growth
reduces poverty. Perhaps it creates poverty?
• What was forgotten was the environment.
Sachs wrote a memorandum so that we do
not forget.
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Sachs sees a hidden agenda.
• Sachs claims that there was no clearly stated
agenda for WSSD. This vagueness provided the
pretext for a hidden agenda.
• Sachs saw a disguised corporate intrusion into
the sustainable development process and a
corruption of the authenticity of both Brundtland
and the 1992 Earth Summit.
• Sachs reflects an outcry from civil society
organizations that carried through the Rio+20
summit in 2012. He gives this concern a resonant
voice.
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Sachs turned to civil society.
In the preparation for WSSD
civil society organizations,
a player at Rio,
had begun to rebel and to push back.
Sachs is speaking to, not for,
Global Civil Society,
with an emphasis on the Global South.
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Sachs offers an agenda and a program.
His memorandum has two parts:
1. A statement of the problem (pages 31-37)
2. A program for authentic development that
alleviated poverty and restored nature (pages
37-58).
A continuation of this thinking is reflected in an
essential product of Rio+20, The Peoples’
sustainability Treaties.
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Livelihood Rights vs.
Export Led Growth
Pages 32-33
Sachs defines the problem
in this essential section.
Study this closely.
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Livelihood rights vs.
export-led growth
• Sachs redefines the economy around
livelihood, making a living.
• Livelihood grounds development in ecology.
• Exploiting resources and labor is inadequate,
leaving “holes in the ground and holes in the
belly.”
• Over 2 billion humans live through
subsistence, many others on the margins.
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Sach’s agenda: resolve the
ecology of rich and poor.
1. Nature is under assault. The problem of the
environment was raised by the North. This was
reflected in the Brundtland Report and in the
1992 Earth Summit.
2. Fairness and social justice means that poverty
must be alleviated, the legitimate claim of the
South. Economic growth is not the solution.
Sachs attempts to forge a global social contract that
addresses both concerns and reconciles the
North/South divide.
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Shrug Off Copycat Development
Pages 33 - 35
The development model of the North
is a dead-end.
Good riddance.
Another path has opened.
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A new path must be forged.
Consider his words:
“. . . the development model
of the North
is historically obsolete” (33).
Sachs recognizes the
Limits to Growth.
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Sachs cites overshoot.
Since the mid-1970s,
“. . . ecological overshoot
has become the
distinguishing mark of
human history” (34).
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Sachs defines another path.
“Some claim that humanity faces a choice
between human misery and natural
catastrophe. That choice is false.”
His alternative is to
reconcile environment
and (economic) development.
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The South must go its own way.
Avoid copycat development,
a path that is not feasible anyway
and that collides with nature.
There is a better way to
alleviate poverty and to
achieve equity.
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Sachs urges de-coupling.
• De-link economic growth from resource use.
• Don’t confuse social progress with economic
growth.
• Break the “master-student relationship,”
which is self-defeating.
• Leapfrog into the solar age! (page 35)
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Reduce the Footprint of the Rich
Pages 35 - 36
“Without ecology
there will be no
equity in the world.”
Restraint by the rich
is a precondition
of global justice.
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Sachs connects ecology with equity.
Without ecology there is no equity:
• The rich 20% of the world’s population consumes
nearly 80% of its resources.
• Eat about half the meat and fish.
• Consume two-thirds of the electricity.
• Consume 84% of the paper.
• Own nearly 90% of the automobiles.
“The wealthy 25% of humanity occupy a footprint as
large as the entire biologically productive surface of the
Earth” (pp. 35-36).
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Zombie Concepts
Pages 36 – 37
Semantic confusion
clouds our understanding.
Sachs seeks to clarify.
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Sachs identifies zombie concepts.
We are misled by confusing language void of
concrete meaning:
1. North/South
2. G7 (or G8) versus G77 (plus China)
3. Even developed versus undeveloped carries
cultural arrogance.
How does Sachs re-frame the discourse?
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Sachs reframes the divide.
“The major rift appears to be between the
globalized rich and the localized poor” (p. 36).
• The rich are about 20% of human population,
about the same number as have access to
automobiles.
• 80% of the rich live in North America, Western
and Eastern Europe, and Japan.
• 20% are dispersed in the South.
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Globalization works for the rich.
• Globalization integrates the rich within
worldwide circuits of commodity production
and consumption.
• “Transnational corporations cater to this
class” (p. 36).
• Resources and energy are pulled toward “high
consumption zones” (p. 37).
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Reduce the footprint of the rich.
• “Reduction of the ecological footprint of the
consumer classes is not just a matter of
ecology but also a matter of equity” (37).
• “As the consumer class corners resources
through the global reach of corporations, they
contribute to the marginalization of that third
of the world population which derives their
livelihood directly from free access to land,
water, and forests” (37).
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Ensure Livelihood Rights
Pages 37 – 40
Which argues:
Ecology provides
the essentials
for decent livelihood.
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Sachs defines an alternative plan.
Sachs outlines a green plan
for the South
from pages 37 to 58.
We will examine his greenprint.
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Eradicate poverty!
• Eradication of poverty is job #1. Still is today.
• Conflict exists between the marginalized
majority and the global middle class.
• Poverty reduction is not achieved through
conventional capital formation and economic
globalization.
• Sachs directly challenges the development
paradigm, even sustainable development.
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Ensure Livelihood Rights (37).
• Mobilize the excluded as agents of renewal,
especially women.
• Work within nature as an active element in
renewal.
• Throughout this article, people and nature are
portrayed as active agents of poverty
alleviation, not passive recipients of aid and
sustainable development.
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Choose livelihood over
economic growth (39).
“Boosting economic growth is less important
than securing livelihoods for the impoverished.
Since economic growth often fails to trickle
down, there is no point in sacrificing people’s
lives in the present for speculative gains in the
future. Instead, it is crucial to empower them for
a dignified life here and now” (39).
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Environmental and economic
refugees increase.
Source: Lester Brown in
The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia
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Export-led growth is not the answer.
• Such growth displaces millions from the land.
Livelihood is lost.
• Labor is now redundant and families drift to
the slums of burgeoning cities.
• Promote, don’t destroy, sustainable
livelihoods.
• “Ecology is thus essential for ensuring decent
livelihoods in society” (40).
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Export-led growth favors the
global rich.
Sachs plants an important notion here (40): The
global rich must “transition towards resourcelight patterns of production and consumption.”
Sachs thus links poverty eradication to the
consumption patterns and lifestyles of the rich.
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Leapfrog Into the Solar Age (40-42)
Source: E+CO: Energy Through Enterprise
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Embrace a post-industrial
regenerative economy.
Sachs defines the 21st century challenge:
“how best to extend hospitality to twice
the number of people on the globe in light
of a rapidly deteriorating biosphere” (40).
Don’t lay off people, lay off waste and
destruction.
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Livelihood Rights
Page 42
Sachs defines the key move:
create and secure livelihood rights.
Sachs is re-defining economics.
The foundation is
the preservation
of the Commons.
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Link livelihood to ecology (42).
Economic growth often destroys ecosystems and
displaces and impoverishes people. So structure
economies
• to preserve and revitalize ecosystems
• to restore the cohesion and capacities of
communities.
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Biodiversity and Livelihood
Page 43
Protect biodiversity
and rural cultures.
Use common property resources wisely.
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Enrich diversity and
protect commons (43).
Link the Convention on Biological Diversity
with the productive lives
of culture and nature.
This rural development is
real development that
protects forests and fisheries.
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Livelihood Security and
Biodiversity
Pages 43 – 45
Sachs links
the status of women
to security and
to biodiversity.
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This opens a path for
the inclusion of women.
“Indeed, women play a pivotal role in both
maintaining strategically using biodiversity.
Besides being managers and providers of food in
the families, they are also carriers of local
knowledge, skills for survival and cultural
memory” (43).
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Women and Seed Protection
Page 45
Sachs connect women to biodiversity and
to “the enhancement of genetic resources and
biodiversity.”
Sachs elevates women to
the guardians of
generativity,
crucial to sustainability.
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Women guard biodiversity (45)
Ensuring the livelihood rights of women,
seeds are protected.
Nature and nurture
can be significantly improved.
Displacement is reduced
and people can return to the land.
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Land, Water and Livelihood
Pages 45 – 46
Sachs directly calls out
transnational corporations
over water privatization,
intellectual property rights over seeds,
and commercial agriculture
and deforestation.
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Land, water, and soil (45-47)
These are local and regional commons
that must be preserved and cultivated.
The stakes are high:
About one billion are affected by
soil erosion, deforestation,
over-grazing, and industrial agriculture (46).
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Industrial agriculture and
the Green Revolution (47)
• The Green Revolution
uses petroleum as
fertilizer and fuel for
mechanization.
• Consumes more water
and erodes soils
• Privatizes knowledge
and seeds.
• Reduces biodiversity.
Source: Peak Oil Technology
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Soil Fertility Through
Organic Agriculture
Pages 46 – 47
Sachs then defines
the specific alternative
to large-scale, invasive agribusiness.
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Promote rural well-being.
This brief section concludes
by saying that rural communities
“derive their dignity from
stable livelihoods and good relations
with their fellow beings
in community and nature” (47).
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Water Through
Ecological Restoration and
Erosion of Livelihoods Through
Industrial Agriculture
Pages 47 - 48
Sachs anticipates
the coming water wars
between local and regional communities
and corporate-dominated water privatization.
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Sachs defines the
seed/agrochemical/water trap.
Basic to Sachs’s case is that local people control
their own resources and retain local cultural
knowledge of their bioregions.
The path of mass agriculture will create
debt traps, increase the monetary cost of
agriculture, and capture scarce water.
Sachs says: Don’t get caught in this trap.
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Energy and Livelihoods
Page 48 – 49
Sustainable development promotes
decentralization in energy,
mini-businesses,
and appropriately scaled technology,
facilitated by Internet networks.
This is the antidote to TINA:
There is another way!
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Sachs defines another path.
Notice the vivid imagery on pages 48 – 49.
Sachs defines the engine
of his decentralized, locally rooted,
appropriately-scaled path
to sustainable development.
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Jobs and Nature Protection
Through Renewables
Pages 49 – 50
Sachs must include a scheme
to provide access to energy
for two billion people
now without electric (or other) power.
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Energy, renewable, and jobs (48-51)
• Sustainable enterprises localize the economy.
Livelihood is built by decentralized, local, living
economies. See BALLE.
• Livelihood is small in scale and capital
requirements, serving local markets.
• Such small businesses can incorporate
information and knowledge within their business
models.
• They easily adopt renewable energy.
• They can serve the two billion or so outside the
commercial sector.
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Initiating the Energy Transition
Pages 50 – 51
1. Match the quality of energy to its end use.
2. Reduce dependency on fossil fuels and
nuclear energy.
3. Redesign production, transportation,
infrastructure, and dwellings for energy
efficiency.
4. Change lifestyles toward conscious
consumption and production.
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Urban Livelihoods
Pages 51 – 53
Cities are now home
to over half of humanity
often with appalling conditions
that must be addressed.
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Cities grow, create hazards.
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Source: chinaSmack
58
Burgeoning Cities (51)
Some important points:
• Over half of humanity lives in cities.
• The wealth gap is greatest in cities.
• Environmental risks for the poor are great.
Public health is threatened.
• Rural development and agrarian reform can
mitigate and even reverse urbanization.
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Fair Wealth
Pages 53 – 56
Sachs now challenges
the privileges of the wealthy
who have confiscated a
disproportional share of environmental space.
The rich must adjust and learn to share.
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Justice and wealth (53-56)
• Sachs speaks of environmental space,
inequitably distributed. The expands beyond
most definitions of environmental justice.
• Sachs depicts the “natural heritage of the
earth” as a commons, belonging to all (54).
• Fairness in a finite world requires mindful and
restrained consumption by the rich.
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Five steps to environmental equity:
1. Greatly increased resource productivity while
creating meaningful work.
2. Redesign production along biological lines.
3. Restore living systems.
4. Produce end-user services and not
consumable goods.
5. Stress culture and nature over consumption
(55-56).
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Democratizing Globalization
Pages 56 – 57
Sachs explicitly challenges
the Bretton Woods accords.
He urges instead a
classical, cosmopolitan spirit.
(He really does: see the bottom of page 57.)
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Sachs defines the spirit
of democratic globalization (57).
• Cosmopolitan localism must balance (if not
replace) economic globalization.
• Stress small business over big business.
• Celebrate and enhance cultural pluralism.
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A Johannesburg Deal
Pages 57 – 58
• The North can be sustained: resource
consumption.
• The South cannot be sustained: poverty and
misery.
So what are the principles underneath a deal?
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Forge a global deal.
“The North is most unsustainable in resource
consumption, and the South is most
unsustainable in regard to poverty and misery.
The former must reduce its ecological footprint,
while the latter must ensure livelihood rights for
the marginalized majority” (57-58).
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The three R’s:
1. The rich must practice restraint in
consumption and production and the
exercise of power.
2. The North must assist in the restoration of
damage in the South.
3. Livelihood rights must be assured for all,
especially in the South (57-58).
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There is an alternative!
Remember the admonition
of Margaret Thatcher:
“There is no alternative.”
TINA.
Remember with Sachs that
there is an alternative
and a path toward a sustainable world.
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Conclusion
We can remember Sachs’s prescription and his
analysis. He wanted us to remember that the
ecology of rich and poor can be restored.
As the Rio+20 process unfolds,
remembering his agenda and his proposals for
the World Summit on Sustainable Development
in Johannesburg might provide a good place to
start. His memo is available in sixteen languages.
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Remember this:
There
is
an
alternative.
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Or, in the words of Siddhartha:
“Do not
seek,
find.”
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Fairness in a Fragile World